Youth Corps Participant Nazeli Khodabakhsh Shares Her Story
By: Nazeli Khodabakhsh
Whether it was stepping (literally and figuratively) into things I had never stepped into before in Javakhk, attempting, as a self-proclaimed klutz, to walk on unpaved roads in Gyumri, sleeping on top of a box in a “Gazelle” on the way back from Shushi, jumping off a wall to take a cool picture in Noravank, living with and sharing everything with people I had never met before, visiting places I had never heard about before, or swimming in green water in two different places, Youth Corps 2011 for me was all about new experiences, which could not have happened without the friends I made. “Friends” is just not a strong enough word to describe how I feel about these people, so I refer to them as family. My family is not just the 25 people from the US and Canada who participated in the program, but everyone else we met there as well. It includes the host families who opened their homes to us, the ungerner who opened their lives and experiences to us, making sure this summer was the best it could be not just for the kids, but for us as well, and of course the hundreds of campers we met! We each had a personality that contributed to the craziness of our family. They’ll tell you that I was the clumsy crybaby. I cried for hours every time we left a city because we were leaving part of our family behind. This new family taught me more about myself than I had learned in the 19 years prior to the trip. I now know that I can travel to the other side of the world; live with strangers who after laughing at me for tripping over something for the millionth time will always help me up; climb to the tops of mountains (again, literally and figuratively); work with kids everyday; do laundry with only one unfortunate incident of everyone’s clothes turning green; and, of course, live in Armenia. I didn’t know any of this before the trip, and I learned it all with a little help from my friends.
If you’re ready to form an ever lasting bond and building a family, apply now at www.ayfyouthcorps.org/apply
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